15 June 2015

Bullet Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika JohansenDid you love The Queen of the Tearling? Can't wait to read more about Kelsea? Then what are you waiting for? Erika Johansen's followup book, The Invasion of the Tearling, came out last week and continues to break new ground.

Kelsea's ongoing story is what you expect from Johansen, but Invasion of the Tearling is not without some surprises. We learn more about the Crossing, see how queenship changes Kelsea, discover what makes the Red Queen tick, and meet new people. The action scenes pull you in, and the narrative is engrossing. Kelsea is one tough young woman; I wouldn't want to be on her bad side.

For the purposes of this bullet review, I'm assuming you read The Queen of the Tearling, but I'll do my best not to spoil the story of the second book.

What's happening: Kelsea prepares herself and her kingdom for the inevitable invasion by the Red Queen's army. Kelsea's perspective and duties are multilayered: She is concerned about protecting her people, laying in supplies for a siege, reforming the tax laws, and making alliances. War is coming, and the prospects for the Tearling look grim.

Kelsea: Unlike many fantasy writers, Johansen allows Kelsea to remain believable (within the parameters of the story). For example, the young queen can lose her temper, has moments of insecurity and uncertainty, is not always a good friend, and doesn't always know how to ask for help. Although Kelsea has emotional and physical feelings for some of the men she knows, there is no great romance (yet), which I love and appreciate. I'm so sick of the love triangles and of the fact that every heroine must have a man in her life.

Other characters: There are quite a few characters in these books: people involved in the army, in Kelsea's circle, in the Red Queen's circle, and in the predominant organized religion. In addition, we meet historical figures. Each important character is easy to envision and remember because Johansen developed consistent personalities and motivations. All the side stories, especially the events that happen at the Arvath (think: Vatican), are ongoing and add to the overall direction of the series, even if we haven't yet guessed or learned how everything is going to tie together

Genre: There are things we learn in this book (I don't want to spoil it for you) that are genre twisting. Is this fantasy? Is this speculative? Is it dystopian? You be the judge. Whatever the genre or subgenre, I want more.

Ending and plotting: Oh, Johansen, I hate you. (Of course, not really.) The Invasion of the Tearling doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but, but, but . . . I want to know what happens next right.this.minute. I wasn't quite sure how it was all going to play out, and although I had some pretty solid theories, Johansen still surprised me. And not just at the end. I wonder how others are going to react to what Kelsea learns about herself, her powers, and her world. I'll go on record this way: I loved the way Johansen mixed history with the present, and I couldn't get enough of what we discover about Kelsea's past and the Crossing.

Violence: As I mentioned in my review of The Queen of the Tearling, Kelsea's world is one of violence. Not only is the kingdom heading for war but those who cross the wrong people can't expect a pleasant end. Sometimes innocent victims find the power to strike back; sometimes they don't.

Recommendations: Erika Johansen's strong second outing in The Ivasion of the Tearling secures her a place on the same shelf as other great fantasy authors. The uniqueness of both the Tearling series in general and Kelsea in particular breathes new life into a genre that was becoming formulaic. With its heart-pounding action and complex emotional landscape, Invasion of the Tearling is destined to be one of the most talked-about summer reads.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780062290397
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Amanda 6/15/15, 7:54 AM  

I've heard some VERY mixed reviews on this one, so I'm glad to hear something really positive! It sounds like a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Vicki 6/15/15, 8:34 AM  

I'm glad you enjoyed the book so much. I like books with a strong main character, especially if it's a woman.

bermudaonion 6/15/15, 8:48 AM  

I know this one's not for me bu I have a feeling my sister would love it.

Daryl 6/16/15, 10:02 AM  

ok .. but this time i am waiting for the 3rd book before i begin this series ... i am tired of getting hooked, waiting interminable months/years ...sometimes its so long between books i forget who's who/whats what!

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